On this tour through the central river valley from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we visit almost all the major sights of historical, aesthetic and cultural importance of Thailand. From the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya kingdoms, to the modern mega-temples and structures devoted to Buddhism, there is no shortage of beauty in Thailand. We visit local artists and artisans, local families and chefs, for a deep connection to the culture and people. The hotels are magnificent, the food incredible, come experience the land of smiles Halcyon style!
Although we present this tour from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, it is equally enjoyable in either direction. Chiang Mai is well connected to Bangkok by air. Some locations and hotels on this tour deserve additional days to discover! While this tour can be done in 6 days, we recommend doing it in at least 10.
We transfer out of Bangkok and into the green countryside, where we’ll begin cycling among the farms which sustain the famous floating markets. We’ll soon transition into the central river valley, where the bulk of Thailand’s rice production occurs. The roads will get smaller and smaller, and as we near Ayutthaya the hustle and bustle of Bangkok will seem a world away. No film or photos can prepare you for the wonder of cycling around the myriad of Ayutthaya’s monuments, once described as the world’s ‘greatest city’. Ancient Siam was a world power from the 1300’s to the 1700’s, which openly traded with Europe and Asia. Today all that remains from the Burmese wars are the stone and brick temples and stupas, and they are quite a sight to behold! We’ll have a few hours until sunset to enjoy the historical park for photos. At least another day can be spent in Ayutthaya to fully appreciate all the sights.
Today we’ll cycle past more ruins of the ancient Siam kingdom, spot a buddha entangled in the roots of a Baobab tree, and head into the vast paddy fields of central Thailand. The rythm of the paddies is unique and entertaining, as there is much work to be done in group. Depending on the season, we’ll spot replanting, dredging, harvesting, or fishing. We’ll have a chance to get our feet wet and experience life in the paddy with our friend Sanan, he’ll share with us the secrets to great rice, and great rice whiskey! Who has never wished to ride a 1000 pound water buffalo? Towards the end of our ride we’ll stumble upon the golden Great Buddha at Wat Muang, the world’s tallest sitting Buddha sculpture, at a towering 300ft. Moments later we’ll end our ride at the very long reclining Buddha at Wat Khun Inthapramun. After enjoying refreshments we’ll transfer to our resort hotel at Phitsanulok.
Phitsanulok is one of Thailand’s oldest cities. After a ride around town, and a visit to the famous Wat Yai to gaze at one of the most adored golden Buddhas of Thailand, we’ll head towards Sukhothai. It’s a city so important to Thailand, it has its own period in Thai history! Ruins of the original Sukhothai are preserved, and a new city was rebuilt 12km away. We’ll settle into our hotel and enjoy a traditional dance performance before lunch. The afternoon is free for us to roam around the ancient city, accompanied by our local historical guide Mr. James. At least another day should be spent here, there are plenty of loop ride options and historical sights of importance to discover.
We’ll follow the Yom river north through the land of Happiness, on small secondary roads lined with fruit orchards and rice paddies. Today we’ll learn from master chef Mrs. Ai how to properly prepare staple dishes such as Gŏo•ay đĕe and Nám prík, followed by a lunch in her lovely home. From there we’ll visit Si Satchanalai, an ancient city from the golden age of Sukhothai. We can finish the afternoon with a visit to a local artisan who’s mastered the art of sculpting Teak, or keep cycling towards Phrae. After refreshments at the end of our ride, we’ll transfer to the magnificent Huern na na Hotel. Dinner is in Phrae.
Today’s ride will take us around Phrae’s hills and temples, and on to the Train station for a scenic ride in tropical jungle. After some refreshments we’ll start riding towards Chiang Mai. Along our route we’ll visit one of the most important shrines in the region: Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. We’ll finish our ride at the very beautiful Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, a short transfer from our hotel in Chiang Mai.
A walled city, home to a thousand temples, Chiang Mai is unique and beautiful. Lose yourself in the small streets and crowded markets, or relax in modern coffee houses and restaurants. Chiang Mai is preserved in time, yet incredibly modern and connected. It is the home of artists and musicians, with a very distinct atmosphere from Bangkok. There are countless loop rides available to us to discover the region around Chiang Mai, and we recommend staying at least 4 days, and much longer if you can!
End of the tour: We can say goodbye at your hotel, train station or airport. Ask us about transfers to your next destination.